Paper No. 178-7
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM
IMPLEMENTING SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGNS AND WEBINARS TO PROMOTE PROFESSIONALIZATION IN PALEONTOLOGY
Social media provides countless opportunities for individuals to learn collaboratively as well as contribute to scientific knowledge within digital contexts. The FOSSIL Project, a National Science Foundation-funded initiative, uses social media platforms (i.e. Twitter and Facebook) to unite paleontologists, regardless of level of expertise, as a more formalized paleontological community. In the fall of 2016, the FOSSIL Project began offering a series of webinars to promote professionalization for community members. The FOSSIL Project created four four-part webinar series in which each series consisted of four distinct webinars. Each series covered specific topics to encourage the development of paleontological knowledge and expertise, including fossil collection, preparation, identification, and curation. To bolster community involvement, members of the FOSSIL social media team produced messaging campaigns specific to each webinar series, drawing on best practices from marketing and educational research. University researchers, student interns, and museum scientists collaborated to ensure that messages were scientifically accurate, engaging, educative, and branded. The campaign for each webinar resulted in different degrees of community engagement, with the “Process of Paleontology” series seeing the greatest involvement in development and implementation, and the “Women in Paleontology” series seeing the least. Through our description of these social media campaigns and outcomes, we illustrate how social media can be used effectively to engage diverse community members fully in social paleontology via webinar development and implementation, including soliciting content, increasing attendance, and participating in social learning.